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Bloody Roar (PlayStation) artwork

Bloody Roar (PlayStation) review

"Bloody Roar, a 3D fighter released during the modern glut of 3D fighters, relies on style over gameplay. I believe you can make the connection here. Fond memories of the title crop up every now and again, but when I yearn to play a PSX fighter, I find myself reaching for Soul Edge instead."

Hold a burning candle in your left hand. Careful, don't drop it. Next, hold a blazing magnesium sparkler in your right. Certainly, the sparkler is far more impressive with its small dots of white-hot fire sparking through the air. However, after a few seconds, the sparkler fades away, leaving only the candle's steadfast flame.

Now stop playing with fire and instead consider this: Bloody Roar, a 3D fighter released during the modern glut of 3D fighters, relies on style over gameplay. I believe you can make the connection here. Fond memories of the title crop up every now and again, but when I yearn to play a PSX fighter, I find myself reaching for Soul Edge instead.

The game places you in control of any of eight characters, ranging from a pig-tailed schoolgirl to a top-hat-crowned circus strongman. The gimmick to the whole affair is that, during the 3D battle, you can ROAR and turn into a beast (such as a large pink rabbit or giant gorilla).

As you fight, your character becomes ENRAGED. Earn enough "rage power" and press a button to transform from blocky human to blocky pet. The downside is, as your beast form takes damage, you become less enraged. You might think a fist to the gut would make you even madder, but this is not a thinking man's game! If your rage level drops too low, you revert back to human form, and proceed to have your fleshy buttocks handed to you in a sling by your furry opponent.

That's the game's major problem. To unlock the entire arsenal of attacks you must enter your beast form. From a design standpoint, this makes sense. If you had all the attacks from the beginning, there would be little incentive to metamorph. Unfortunately, once you are beaten back into human form, there is very little chance to earn a comeback against a raging tiger's chest-gutting claws. Battles tend to be extremely short: combatants fight, they turn into beasts, one pummels the other back to human form, and then rends him or her limb from limb. Soul Edge at least made it difficult to lose your weapon in Bloody Roar, a few hits can easily be enough to wear you down from beastliness to manliness.

The game's other problem is that, even were you to somehow remain in animal form twenty-four seven, the gameplay still falls flat. The attacks lack the speed of Dead or Alive. The breadth of technique pales in comparison to the mix-and-match combos of Tekken. And the play is cheap, very cheap. If you hurl your opponent across the ring, you can simply stand above their body and toss them again as they get up. Or perhaps simply repeat gorilla Greg's "fist to the head" over and over, knocking your foe from knees to ground to knees to ground again, never allowing them a chance to stand. And should you play "honestly", always lingering in the back of your mind is a simple crutch if you ever find yourself in dire straits, just charge headfirst at your opponent and leap into them... without retaliation.

Of course, that's assuming you can tolerate the rigid combo patterns. Not only does the game offer fewer techniques than Tekken 2 or Virtua Fighter 2, but Bloody Roar manages to feel rote and mundane as well. Memorization is required to master the combinations or else you'll simply throw one slow punch after another. While naysayers might claim the same for Tekken, at least experimentation yields results in that game.

As for the graphics? They were bright and colorful four years ago. Today, the lines are jagged, the characters lack detail, and the animation is slow and chunky. This is the most significant fault with placing graphics above gameplay... beauty doesn't last forever. While deeper fighters have aged gracefully, Bloody Roar has become a wrinkled, wart-nosed hag unpleasant to look at, and unpleasant to be with.


zigfried's avatar
Staff review by Zigfried (January 11, 2005)

Zigfried likes writing about whales and angry seamen, and often does so at the local pub.

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